Companies in the services sector now have some new standards to consider on how to report on material sustainability information.
The sustainability standards for the services sector, released Dec. 17, mark the sixth set in a planned industry-focused series of standards by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board that tells companies how to account for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters that are likely to be material to the company’s performance. So far, SASB has also published standards for the non-renewable resources; health care; financials; transportation; and technology and communications sectors.
The non-profit board, funded by a handful of foundations, has conducted research to determine what sustainability issues would be regarded as material, then developed standards working with industry representatives on how to report on them.
The board, which began its standard-setting activity in 2012, is focusing on material sustainability issues that public companies are already required to report in their Form 10-K. SASB's first group of standards focused on the health care sector. In all, the group said it will develop standards for at least 80 industries in 10 sectors through the beginning of 2016.
SASB’s provisional standards address sustainability disclosure topics relevant for companies in the following industries:
Advertising and marketing;
Cable and satellite;
Casinos and gaming;
Hotels and lodging;
Media production and distribution;
Professional services; and
Examples of disclosure topics include energy management, fair labor practices, data privacy, and supply chain management and food sourcing.
SASB said it has gained consensus around these issues in the services sector by working with 271 participants in an industry working group representing publicly traded companies with $909 billion market capital, and investment firms with $9.7 trillion in assets under management.
SASB’s standards will remain provisional for at least one year after the issuance date. To provide feedback, visit SASB’s public comment portal.